The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is recruiting 10,000 people in its latest “pioneering” study in to eating disorders.

The recruitment drive, which makes the study the “largest ever” eating disorder survey of its kind, aims to help researchers better understand these conditions and enable the design of new treatments aimed at improving the lives of patients.

Partnering with the NIHR BioResource for Translational Research and the eating disorder charity Beat, the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) says that it will “facilitate the discovery of new genetic and environmental risk factors and by creating a resource of potential study participants who agree to be re-contacted for further research”, in order to speed up the pace of research into the most under-researched set of psychiatric disorders.

Last year it was revealed that a “record number” of children are being hospitalised for eating disorders, with Public Health England reporting that hospital admissions for eating disorders in girls aged just 10 years old had increased by 146% since 2013/14, with a total of 2,196 hospital admissions for eating disorders of children and young people aged 10 to 24 years in 2017/18.

The report also stated that although bulimia is more common among children and young people, it is anorexia which accounts for the larger proportion of hospital admissions.

The new NIHR study hopes “to discover new genetic and environmental risk factors and provide a platform that will increase the amount of research being done in the field”, according to Professor Gerome Breen, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.

Gerome continued, “We want to make research into eating disorders faster, cheaper and more effective to meet the desperate need for more effective treatments.”

Up to 5% of the population will experience an eating disorder, with the most well-known being anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Eating disorders are serious and have the highest mortality rate amongst all psychiatric disorders. Currently, less than half of individuals reach full recovery.